Bonus article: showcases and bringers, what’s the difference?
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article on how I felt showcases were dominating the local scenes and how the over saturation of this type of show was hurting the development of young comics.( https://funny.laughstaff.com/why-i-think-showcases-are-ruining-a-comics-development-634baa0fde28 ) This piece got a lot of views and was for the most part received with a ton of praise and agreement. But there were a few newer comics who were confused because they thought showcases were bringer shows. And they hated bringer shows. They didn’t know why they hated bringer shows. They just knew they were supposed to hate them. My article had nothing at all to do with bringer shows though.
So this week I wrote an article about bringer shows. I figured, since people were bringing them up, it would be a piece that would relate and gain interest. I decided to write the article from the viewpoint of defender of the bringer showcase and how it doesn’t deserve the stigma it holds. (https://medium.com/@patoatescomedy/im-about-to-defend-comedy-bringer-shows-and-nickelback-91d5fb325de5 ) For the most part this piece has been received well and has started many a thread in various Facebook comedy groups. If my articles generate discussion and debate, then I deem that a successful article. But a few newer comics were confused. They wanted to know why I thought bringer shows were good and showcases were bad. The funny thing was, I made neither of those points in those pieces. I could sense their was some confusion. And since I plan on writing on a completely different topic next week,( concerning how to fix a bad reputation in your local comedy scene), I decided to write this quick bonus article to clear up a few things.
A bringer show is a show that requires the comedian performing to ask a certain amount of people to attend the show. If that agreed upon number of people pays admission and attends the show, then the comic is allowed to perform. Skill level, experience and credits mean nothing. You could of never performed comedy before in your life and be allowed to perform on this show. All that is necessary is that the comedian provide the mandatory agreed upon amount of people. That’s it.
A showcase is a show that has many comedians on the line up. Usually all doing shorter sets. These are not usually paid spots but sometimes comics are thrown a few bucks if the promoter decides to do so. These shows are a good opportunity for young comics to perform in a non open mic setting and start to get the feel of what an actual show feels like. (This format is also used in many NYC and LA comedy clubs to give national acts the chance to work out material in shorter sets.) This is most times a booked show, in which the person producing the show reaches out to comedians and asks them to perform. Sometimes comedians ask to sign up for these shows. Either way, these comedians are not asked to bring anyone. If they are, then it is a bringer show.
If you are asked to bring people, that show is a bringer show. If you are not asked to bring people, that show is not a bringer show. I’m sure most of you didn’t need me to make that statement. But a few of you apparently did.
Now for the part that caused a few of you confusion. In the showcase article, I was making the case that lately, young comics have been producing nothing but showcases and not putting on the traditional three comic shows as well. The reason they were putting on these showcases was two fold. One, it gave them and their friends shows to be on. They wanted stage time so they created it. Two, these shows have little to no budget so venues would just let them put on shows. But because these shows have no seasoned or strong comics and the venue has nothing vested in the show, they are promoted poorly and attendance is scarce. And the few that do attend watch 7–10 comics do okay at best. These types of shows are needed for the growth of new comics but they shouldn’t replace the traditional pro show. These showcases should be on weekdays and the pro shows on weekends. That way audiences know the difference. If you want to learn how to perform longer sets, you need to be around comedians that do longer sets. You need to be able to watch and learn pacing, set structure and how to relate and connect to the audience. You can not learn these things by watching and performing 5–7 minute sets with comedians at your level or lower. If you want to prepare yourself to one day be a host, you need to run host like sets. Pro shows in the local scene at restaurants and halls are essential to the development of not only comics but the comedy community as well.
Not once did I say showcases were bad. They are great. They are vital. But if they are all we have then comics will never learn how to run longer sets. And if you don’t know how to build your stamina and structure your set, you will never be looked at or considered for club work. And if for some reason you do get that opportunity, you most likely will not be equipped to handle it and fail.You need more than just showcase spots.
Bringer shows are shows in which anyone can perform. All you need to do is bring people. That is it. The audiences consist of every comic on the show’s mothers, their neighbors, co workers and loved ones. These audiences are not comedy savvy. They wouldn’t be at the show if their nephew didn’t make them attend. These shows are a fun way for people to fulfill their bucket list dreams, for the funny guy at the office to pretend he is a comic or for young comics who haven’t driven all their friends away yet with constant talk of their new jokes and open mic failure stories to perform. Sometimes you can even get your picture taken on a famous stage and use it as your profile picture on social media. These shows don’t help the development of comedy. Now, sometimes the comics paid to host these shows are actual working comedians. And if these bringer comics show any promise, these seasoned comics could steer them in the right direction and tell them about open mics to hit in the area. But besides that happening, the only thing a comic will get out of these shows is asked to do more bringer shows. I never said they were good shows. I just made the point in my article that they are not scams. Because 2 parties agree on terms. You bring people. I let you perform. That isn’t a scam or a trick. It is a mutual understanding. There are some jerks out there that will promise industry will be watching or that this spot is an audition for a future spot. But if someone says that to you, that should be a red flag. Why would a comedy club find comedians this way? If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. If you have the resources (people) to do a bringer and you just want to perform somewhere that isn’t a pizza parlor of dive bar, then by all means, do a bringer. As long as you realize that the only thing required of you in order to perform is to bring people, then there is nothing wrong with a bringer show. But never, ever once did I say or am I saying they are good for a comedians development at all.
Do showcases to become a better comic. Do bringers if you know a bunch of people. Read my articles if you love pursuing the path of comedy. You don’t need to bring anyone to read them. But I wouldn’t mind if you shared them with friends or others who share the same passion we do.